The day after Ducati unveiled its new flagship Panigale at a theatre in Milan, it was on display for all to see at EICMA, and the Ducati brass was out in full force. We caught up with Ducati Corse CEO Claudio Domenicali for a quick chat on what was in store for the Panigale in 2012.
Will you race the 1199 in Panigale in World Superbike in 2012?
We will homologate the 1199 Panigale, but not for next year. We will homologate the bike for the Superstock, because the technical development is much more related to the production, so we are almost ready to go. While the Superbike, it’s far more extreme change in parts and extreme development, so we have taken our time, even in consideration of the fact that the 1198 is extremely competitive; we won the championship (with Carlos Checa). There is in the World Superbike a system of balancing the performance in which if you win more than certain you get the ballast and even if this system did not apply this year (2011), the rules have changed anyway and we have gotten six kilos more ballast. So really there is very little incentive to put into the field a very fast machine, only to get more ballast. So if the competitors are not getting a strong improvement in time, we will wait some time to homologate the bike, at least one year.
**Will the Öhlins electronic suspension that comes standard on the Panigale be legal?
** The bike has electronics that still is not completely finalized the development, so the whole set of strategy we are still finalizing this month. So the possibility to use in World Superbike, I’m not sure to give the correct answer to you. Because in the current situation we are not developing it for World Superbike, but assume it’s legal as long as it’s on the production bike.
**You’ll have to run restrictors whenever you decide to compete in Superbike. With the 67.5mm throttle bodies on the Panigale, how do you expect they’ll compare to this year’s 50mm restrictors?
** We made some tests and so for sure they affect the performance. So they’re reducing the horsepower of the engine because of the kind of…the restrictor limit is the airflow and this engine is all about having big pistons and big valve for having a high airflow. So when it comes in production form or stock form it can have a very good performance. To have a very good performance with the restrictor it gets more difficult.
**The MotoGP Desmosedici has had trouble with this monocoque chassis. Why do you think it won’t be an issue in World Superbike?
** Yeah, we kind of think that the MotoGP is a very separate environment and very kind of peculiar. The spec tire rule makes a big difference in the way you have to develop a motorcycle. You cannot adapt the tires to the bike, but you have just to design the bike that suits the tire, that’s it. And Bridgestone makes very good tires, but they are very special, they are very stiff. They have a very steady performance to the race. Also for the riders it’s very difficult to adapt to this type of behavior of the tire. Every new rider that joined the championship, it’s very difficult for them to get a good performance straight away. And so I think this is the main reason why we have this kind of difficulties this year, why we are not having at all in World Superbike or Superstock or the production bike. In the Superstock and production bike, we are racing on Pirelli tires. They are a much softer carcass and we have no problem of this type.
Valentino Rossi’s crew chief Jerry Burgess said a key problem with the MotoGP bike is that you can’t move the engine. **
Yeah, you know, again this is specific to MotoGP. In a production bike you don’t have to move the engine except when you are in the development stage. And so in the development we tried different positions. We did find what was the best and made a front weight basis and that’s it. So while on MotoGP it may be different. Maybe you have to adapt from circuit to circuit, so maybe it’s possible you get an advantage moving the engine. My personal opinion is that when a bike is well done it will work in a good way without changing from circuit to circuit, if that’s a good base. But that comes to personal opinion. **SR